He was a keyboardist, saxophonist and songwriter born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
During his years in high school he learnt to play the saxophone with co-students included Frankie Avalon. He started playing the tenor with Jimmy McGriff and during his time with him, he learnt to play the organ. He had his own trio with the drummer Bobby Durham and the jazz guitarist Pat Martino and together they made several recordings.
From 1968 he was a member of Lou Donaldson’ outfit for a year and in 1970 he went out on his own and recorded the successful Black Talk! He spread his wings and began to perform on the synthesizer and soprano saxophone and gained the title of “The Mighty Burner”.
He gained a lot of recognition in the jazz scene and during the late 1970s he collaborated with his wife, the songwriter Sheryl Kendrick, and ventured into the world of disco when he had an international chart hit with “Let the Music Play”. He stopped performing for a few years following the early death of his wife in 1985 but he returned to the stage toward the end of the decade.
An extremely busy musician, he toured regularly and gave an acclaimed performance at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1994. Aside from his busy concert schedule he was also active in the recording studio with more than 40 albums to his credit that featured musicians such as Grover Washington Jr. These include Boss Organ, Charles Earland, The Dynamite Brothers, Live at the Lighthouse, Mama Roots, Revelation, Third Degree Burn, Slammin’ and Jammin’ and Stomp!
He suffered heart failure in 1999 in Kansas City, Missouri and passed away when he was 58 years old.
Here’s his cover of “I Was Made to Love Her”…